RWC 2023

Telea back in All Blacks line-up for World Cup semifinal; Argentina make one switch

Telea back in All Blacks line-up for World Cup semifinal; Argentina make one switch
Mark Telea of New Zealand (C) during the Rugby Test match between New Zealand and South Africa in London, Britain, 25 August 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Neil Hall)

Both the All Blacks and Argentina kept changes to a minimum for the first Rugby World Cup 2023 semifinal at the Stade de France on Friday.

Winger Mark Telea returned to New Zealand’s starting line-up for Friday’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) semifinal against Argentina after being left out of the team last weekend for disciplinary reasons, with coach Ian Foster saying he had resisted any temptation to tinker. 

Telea was one of two changes announced by Foster to the line-up that outlasted Ireland 28-24 in last Saturday’s dramatic quarterfinal clash in Paris, with veteran lock Sam Whitelock also back in the second row alongside his regular Crusaders partner Scott Barrett. 

Telea was left out of the quarterfinal line-up for a breach of team protocol — according to New Zealand media, he overstayed a team curfew. 

“It’s the team we think gives us the best opportunity,” Foster told a press conference on Wednesday. “Mark has done his time, he made a mistake and has accepted that and we’re not lingering in that space. Mark has been our form winger and we’ve got a lot of faith in him.”  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Rugby World Cup 2023 News Hub

Telea’s replacement last Saturday was Leicester Fainga’anuku, who despite scoring a crucial early try against the Irish, drops out of the matchday squad. 

Whitelock’s return means Brodie Retallick, who has 107 caps, moves to the bench. 

There is also a tweak among the replacements at backup hooker, with Samisoni Taukei’aho chosen ahead of the experienced Dane Coles, who retires after the tournament in France. 

“Sam will bring extra energy to our pack early. Samisoni, too, is chomping at the bit and it’s about using that extra bit of energy without compromising the group,” Foster added. 

The All Blacks will qualify for a fifth World Cup final if they beat Argentina, to whom they have lost twice in the last three years. 

“We have never said we are favourites and we know Argentina are a difficult team, a different side. The breakdown will be where we think the battle will be and they have backs that want to run and open you up,” the coach said. 

“We know we have to improve on our performance from last week. It is the best team on the night that wins and we know what Argentina have done to us in the past.” 

Head coach Ian Foster of the All Blacks talks to the media during a press conference following a New Zealand All Blacks training session at INSEP training grounds on 12 October 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo: Hannah Peters / Getty Images)

Argentina make one change 

Argentina have made a single change to their matchday 23 for the semifinal, with scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou returning to the side in the place of Tomás Cubelli. 

Coach Michael Cheika has kept faith with the rest of the starting XV and bench that defeated Wales 29-17 in their quarterfinal clash in Marseille, including another start for Santiago Carreras at flyhalf. 

The side will be captained by hooker Julián Montoya, They have won their last four games in a row since an opening defeat by England, a feat they have not achieved since the 2015 World Cup. 

Montoya makes up a front row that also includes props Thomas Gallo, who has beaten more defenders than any other forward in this year’s tournament, and Francisco Gómez Kodela. 

Gonzalo Bertranou of Argentina contests a line-out during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Japan and Argentina at Stade de la Beaujoire on 8 October 2023 in Nantes, France. (Photo: Phil Walter / Getty Images)

Guido Petti and Tomás Lavanini are the lock pairing, while the powerful back row contains number eight Facundo Isa, earning a 50th cap, and flankers Juan Martín González and Marcos Kremer. 

Juan Cruz Mallía is at fullback, Mateo Carreras and Emiliano Boffelli on the wings, and the centre-pairing contains Santiago Chocobares and Lucio Cinti. 

Veteran hooker Agustín Creevy, who has been involved in many a battle with the All Blacks down the years, is on the bench along with experienced flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez, who has scored the second-most points of any test player against New Zealand (151). Only Australia’s Matt Burke has scored more (176). 

Creevy will be aged 38 years and 219 days on Friday to become the oldest player to feature in a World Cup semifinal, surpassing South Africa’s Victor Matfield who was 38 years and 166 days against the All Blacks in 2015. 

Argentina are seeking a first World Cup final appearance from their third semifinal but have won only two of their previous 36 Tests against New Zealand, though those wins have come since 2020. 

There are six players who featured in both those previous victories — replacement lock Matías Alemanno, Bertranou, Santiago Carreras, Kremer, Petti and Montoya. DM


Argentina: 1- Thomas Gallo, 2- Julián Montoya (C), 3- Francisco Gómez Kodela, 4- Guido Petti, 5- Tomás Lavanini, 6- Marcos Kremer, 7- Juan Martín González, 8- Facundo Isa, 9- Gonzalo Bertranou, 10- Santiago Carreras, 11- Mateo Carreras, 12- Santiago Chocobares, 13- Lucio Cinti, 14- Emiliano Boffelli, 15- Juan Cruz Mallía.

Replacements: 16- Agustín Creevy, 17- Joel Sclavi, 18- Eduardo Bello, 19- Matías Alemanno, 20- Rodrigo Bruni, 21- Lautaro Bazán Vélez, 22- Nicolás Sánchez, 23- Matías Moroni. 

New Zealand: 15- Beauden Barrett, 14- Will Jordan, 13- Rieko Ioane, 12- Jordie Barrett, 11- Mark Telea, 10- Richie Mo’unga, 9- Aaron Smith, 8- Ardie Savea, 7- Sam Cane (capt.), 6- Shannon Frizell, 5- Scott Barrett, 4- Sam Whitelock, 3- Tyrel Lomax, 2- Codie Taylor, 1- Ethan de Groot.

Replacements: 16- Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17- Tamaiti Williams, 18- Fletcher Newell, 19- Brodie Retallick, 20- Dalton Papalii, 21- Finlay Christie, 22- Damian McKenzie, 23- Anton Lienert-Brown.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Iota Jot says:

    “Gonzalo Bertranou of Argentina contests a line-out ” – caption of photo in article.

    Are you sure that Argentina’s 5’10” scrumhalf is part of the Puma line-out? Unusual tactics or perhaps they suffered a slew of injuries that day?

  • Steve Davidson says:

    Let’s hope the Argies do SA a favour and nail Telea – he looks like the one good wing the ABs have.

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